Bow sight pin size is a subject that isn’t discussed a lot. It isn’t uncommon for inexperienced archers to purchase a new sight without asking about the pin size first. We have been there before ourselves. You have to go down the archery rabbit hole a little bit before you are aware that other pin sizes exist. Luckily, the majority of sights are sold with a medium size pin. Many archers will be just fine with that, but some of you might be curious. What are the different pin sizes and is there an advantage to using a larger or smaller pin? We will dive into that here and also cover bow sight pin colors as well.
Why Bow Sight Pin Size is Important
Pin size can have a big effect on your accuracy. There are a couple key considerations here.
Pin Brightness and Visibility
The first one is that larger pins are brighter and more visible. This is important in hunting situations where some of the best opportunities for success come in periods of low light. Your eyesight also plays a factor here. Archers with poor eyesight will usually want to stick to larger pins in order to see them clearly. Smaller pins are harder to see and they fade faster in low light.
Accuracy and Aiming
The biggest thing that leads to archers using smaller pins is that they cover less of the target. For shooting longer distances this can be helpful because you can aim more precisely when you can see more of what you are aiming at. However, there are also some downsides to this. The biggest issue is that smaller pins can lead to issues with target panic. The reason for this is that smaller pins magnify any movements that you are making while aiming. If your shooting sequence and form aren’t solid it can seem like the pin is dancing around on the target. This is what can cause archers to punch the trigger in an attempt to catch the pin on the bullseye.
Medium or large size pins will cover more of the target, but that can be a good thing. If you simply cover the target with your pin you don’t have to worry about lining up a perfect bullseye. This can lead to smaller groups for some archers. The same technique can be applied to hunting. If you are using a larger pin you can cover the kill zone or center your pin on that part of the animal. This takes away some of the mental strain that archers experience when aiming at an animal. In many cases it is more difficult trying to pick the perfect kill shot on an animal with a small pin.
The Different Bow Sight Pin Sizes
There are several bow sight pin sizes available. If you go deep down the rabbit hole you can find a variety of odd sizes. However, .010, .019, and .029 are the most common sizes that you will find.
.029 Sight Pins
The largest pin size that you will generally find on sights is .029. There are certain applications where the .029 size pin may be too large and others where it will be just right. This size will work well for shorter distances like 20 or 30 yards. However, at longer distances some shooters will find that the .029 pin covers too much of the target. Archers with poor eyesight may want to consider using this size because it is easier to see at any distance. The .029 size pin can also be great for hunting because it is the most visible in low light situations. Some hunters who use multi pin bow sights like to have .029 sized pins for their 20 yard pin. This size will also show the least amount of movement on the target, which can help archers relax when aiming.
Trophy Ridge .019 pin (left); Truglo .019 pin (middle); HHA .019 pin (right)
.019 Sight Pins
The most common size that you will find is the .019 sight pin. This is arguably the best bow sight pin size because it is a happy medium and works well for the majority of shooters in most situations. Although it isn’t as big as a .029 size pin it is still plenty bright for hunting in low light. It also isn’t so big that it will cover too much of the target at longer ranges. If you bought a sight and never looked to see what the pin size was it is likely the .019 size. This size works especially well on single pin bow sights where you only have one pin to rely on.
.010 Sight Pins
The .010 size pin is the smallest common size that you will find. A lot of people like this pin size because they believe that it will lead to more precise aiming at longer distances. The reason for this is that the smaller diameter pin covers less target area at longer distances. However, there are some drawbacks to this.
The first drawback is that .010 pins are not nearly as bright in most cases and require additional sight lights for early morning or evening hunts. In some states those lights aren’t legal and that puts you in a bad position. Another drawback is that .010 sight pins cause you to perceive more movement when aiming. If you don’t have solid shooting form the pin will seem to dance around on the target. This will often result in you punching the trigger as you try to release an arrow at the exact moment your pin lands on the bullseye. This can quickly cause a bad case of target panic.
.019 vs .010 Pins
For some reason a lot of people seek to move from a .019 to a .010 sized pin after they have been shooting for a while. Usually they have heard from friends or the internet that .010 are “more precise” than .019 size pins. However, that advice is a little misleading and we don’t recommend people run out and switch just for the sake of precision. If you shoot like crap with a .019 sized pin then nothing magical is going to happen just by using a smaller pin. Bottom line, having a more precise pin doesn’t matter if you have target panic.
Distance From The Eye
Another thing to consider is how far your pin is from your eye due to the position of your sight. As you might imagine, your pins will appear smaller the further your sight is out from your riser. The opposite is true when your sight is in close to your riser. This allows you to adjust your pin size to a certain extent and is a great way to test what works for you. However, not all sights have multiple mounting positions that would allow you to do this.
Not all sight manufacturers use the same amount of fiber on their sights. Longer fibers gather more light and the result is a brighter pin. High end manufacturers include more than enough fiber so you don’t have to worry. Some lower priced sights don’t include much fiber and you should look out for this when buying.
This is something to check if your pin seems a little too dim. A good fiber will gather light and transmit that light out each end. However, fibers are somewhat delicate and can crack. When a fiber cracks some of the light escapes out of that crack instead of at the end of your pin where it should be. If this happens you will need to get your fiber replaced or repaired if it happens near the end of the fiber. We purchased a used sight for testing last year that had a really dim pin. Initially, we thought the pin quality was just poor until someone pointed out the crack near the end of the fiber.
Bow Sight Pin Colors
There are a variety of pin colors available for your bow sight. Generally, single pin bow sights come standard with green pins because that is the easiest color to see. On multi pin sights you will often find multiple colors. The most common ones are green, red, and yellow.
Which is the Best Pin Color?
The short answer is that green is the best sight pin color. It is the easiest pin color for most archers to see on the range and in the woods. For hunting, green will perform the best in low light in the early morning and evening times. Red and yellow pins simply don’t perform quite as well as green. Most people agree that red pins will often be the first to go dim while hunting in low light. However, your mileage may vary depending on your eyes. Some people favor red over yellow pins.
The reason that people use multiple colors is to help distinguish between their yardage marks on multi pin sights. For example, a common setup for a 5 pin sight would be green, red, yellow, red, green. If you get a sight custom built you can also use all green pins or any other combination that you can imagine.
Closing Thoughts: Practice
There’s no making up for a lack of practice no matter what bow sight pin size you choose. In most cases it is better to learn to shoot very well with a .019 sized pin before moving to a smaller one. Once you get to a point where you are shooting consistently and you still feel like your pin is blocking too much of the target then by all means switch. We just want to warn anyone in advance who thinks that switching pins alone will greatly improve poor shooting. Bottom line, practice is the most important thing no matter what pin size you choose. Pick something to get good at and stick with it.